MATCH REPORT – Bradford Bulls 24 – 4 Newcastle Thunder

Newcastle Thunder made a highly vaunted Bradford Bulls earn their 11th win of the season on Friday evening, as the more than matched the former Super League giants for a second time this season.

Coming into their second game in five days against one of the top two sides in Betfred League 1 and missing a host of strike runners, Thunder know that building on these performances will do their aims of making the promotion play offs no harm at all.

It took a little while for Newcastle to get a foothold into the game as the home side threw most of their attacking arsenal at the visitors.

Pinning Thunder back into their half and enforcing three repeat sets, the Bulls were good value for the 6-0 lead they took in the eighth minute, when Dane Chisholm regathered a high kick and ran around the last defender for a converted score.

It was  a disappointing concession after some real in-the-face defending had seen Thunder’s line hold firm but it at least allowed Thunder the chance to reset away from their line.

More superb defensive work kept the Bulls at bay, but unforced errors from Thunder were putting themselves under pressure.

Bradford’s Second try came on 21 mins through Brandon Pickersgill, running onto the ball at pace and slicing through the Thunder defence for a second converted score, before the visitors struck back on the half hour mark.

Coming off the bench, Evan Simons mixed things up with a well placed kick through after a mazy run had fixed the Bulls defenders and allowed to win the foot race and to cut the cap to eight points.

It increased to 10 with Five minutes of the half remaining, as Bradford opted to kick for goal after being awarded a penalty for holding down, but for all the time that had been spent defending, Newcastle could be arguably happier with the state of play.

Remaining well in contention, it was a strong start to the second half for Thunder who spent most of the first 20 mins within 30 meters of the Bulls line.

When Vincent Rennie put in a trademark leg-pumping drive to get over the line, it seemed like Thunder had drawn first blood, but the final pass was ruled forward.

Having spent so long on the back foot, a penalty and sin-binning against Tyler Craig saw Bradford opt for two points to get the scoreboard ticking over, but there was a growing sense that an upset was on the cards

Following another dominant spell, it was another of Newcastle’s forwards that looked to have scored, as a huge carry from Rhys Clarke took him over the line, but the officials saw the ball lost forward on the floor.

For all their monumental efforts, there was no way through for that crucial score for Thunder and when the Bulls added another two points with nine minutes to go, it was effectively game over.

Having limited the Bulls to just two goals during the second 40, it was particularly harsh on Newcastle that they conceded a try with just 70 seconds remaining, as Ethan Ryan, rose highest to win the ariel battle for a lofted kick, but it was another strong showing against the benchmark team in the league.

Newcastle Thunder

Ben Dent, Mo Agoro, Kieran Gill (DR) Tyler Craig, Joe Brown, Tom Shaw, Adam Brook (DR) Liam McAvoy, Ben Pointer, Jack Aldous, Rhys Clarke, Aaron Ollett, Sam Luckley, Joe Cator, Evan Simons, Vincent Rennie, Conor Fitzsimmons

Try Scorer – Gill

Bradford Bulls

Brandon Pickersgill, Ethan Ryan, Ross Oakes, Ashley Gibson, Dalton Grant, Joe Keyes, Dane Chisholm, Steve Crossley, Sam Hallas, Callum Bustin, Elliot Minchella, James Laithwaite, Mikey Wood, Liam Kirk, Vila Halafihi, Matty Garside, Ross Peltier

Try Scorers – Chisholm, Pickersgill, Ryan

Goal Scorer – Chisholm 6/6